Sanctuary for the Abused

Monday, March 24, 2014

When Your Spouse Refuses Help

What to Do When a Spouse Refuses Help

by Rob Jackson, MS, LPC, NCC
(written from a Christian perspective and does not necessarily express the religious views of this site or its owner)
We shouldn’t be surprised when an addict refuses our initial confrontation. The situation is difficult for the addict as well. Perhaps, in spite of our fears, we presented our concerns logically and with more than enough evidence. We may have spent weeks, months, or even years, preparing to make our case, only to have our addicted spouse minimize our efforts and refuse help.

If you’ve already confronted your spouse, and you sense positive change is not occurring, you may want to review your initial confrontation. Effective confrontations present the facts that reveal your spouse’s addiction as well as your unwavering resolve to find a consistent and ongoing solution. You will want to continue to “speak the truth in love” as his or her sibling in Christ. While you may be very angry with your spouse, approaching the situation with determination to “come alongside” and walk through the process with him or her is important at this point. (Ongoing refusal to address the problem, however, may require you to remove yourself from the situation at a later time.)

Perhaps you will find that another confrontation is needed. As you re-approach your spouse, the following guidelines may be helpful.

Sin must be confronted. Your initial confrontation satisfies the first step of a three-step process. Now you must identify who will help you to reach out to your spouse a second time. Be sure to choose only two or three adults who love both you and your spouse, and will serve your marriage with honor and discretion.

If your spouse has a history of domestic violence or harm to self, present these facts to your team. A responsible team plans for worst-case scenarios, including when to call 911 for emergency assistance. This is not meant to frighten or create hysteria, but simply to help you prepare for any contingencies that may be relevant to your situation.

It is also advisable to speak with a Christian attorney about the possibility that a therapeutic separation may become necessary. You will want to know how to proceed legally if a separation is unavoidable.

Before meeting with the team, prepare the information they will need to receive in order to help you. Outline the problem, the information and resources you have collected, and your specific expectations (e.g. that your spouse will join you for counseling, become accountable, etc.)

The intervening team should meet privately in advance to discuss the exact nature of the problem. Each team member should prepare a verbal statement that can be presented to your spouse within five minutes.

One team member will serve as moderator. He or she will introduce the purpose of the meeting to your spouse, keep the confrontation within a 20-minute time limit, and ask for your spouse’s response at the end of the collective confrontation.

Plan to hold the confrontation in a private location that is sensitive to your spouse’s needs.

The team should arrive simultaneously to meet with the one who is to be confronted. The addict should not receive advanced notice of this meeting. Team members should refrain from discussing this meeting with the addict or others prior to the group confrontation. The only exception would be to share with their spouses, and caution should be exercised.

As the team approaches the addict, the moderator will offer a brief explanation that it will only take 20 minutes to share their concerns. Once seated, the moderator will state their motive is love, that each person has something to offer, and that at the end of the meeting, the addict will have an opportunity to respond. The moderator will also offer to begin the meeting with prayer.

Each team member will express his or her prepared statement with personal humility. As the spouse, you are the last to present your statement of concern. When the team members have offered their input, the moderator will ask your spouse to respond to your specific expectations. The objective is to hear the confronted addict accept the help and recommendations of the team, without protest. If your spouse begins to deny the facts, shift blame, or try to take control of the meeting, the moderator should assertively reiterate that this is the time for the addict to listen. If your spouse refuses to cooperate, the moderator may be forced to end the failed intervention.

If the addict asks for time to think about his options, the moderator should indicate that the team is also there to support the addict’s spouse and family, and that an answer is expected before the team disperses.

If the addict refuses help or becomes belligerent, the moderator and team should ask him to gather a few things and leave the home immediately. The team should not leave before the addict departs. Once your spouse has left, you will most likely need their additional support given the stress and disappointment. Obviously, an intervention is a demonstration of a radical, tough love approach. Your spouse needs to know that you are resolved to restoring sanity within the home. Given the nature of codependency and perhaps something unique to your marriage, you may be fearful of the consequences. If your partner has been physically violent in the past or has recently left you to fear for your safety, you must be realistic and proactive about your safety needs. In some occasions, spouses have had to seek anonymous, safe shelters within the community and legal counsel. In any case, you will need to remain principled-centered: the sexual immorality within your marriage must be appropriately confronted and ended.

If your spouse has failed to comply with the intervention, you will want to inform your church leadership so that they can make a collective appeal to your spouse. Again, this is not done for the purposes of condemnation, but to shower your spouse with Christian love and support. If your church leadership refuses to become involved in the process, you may have to accept this limitation. There is only so much a spouse can do without the support of a local church that is prepared and willing to become involved.

At the same time, the Bible is clear that that if three levels of loving confrontation have been denied, then the relationships with that person are to be forfeited with ongoing prayer that God will restore him or her to sanity and repentance in time.

Finally, an important note: as each situation is different, the general guidelines offered here will probably need to be customized to your situation. Each couple may find themselves at different points along the scale of addiction. For those who have suffered through this problem for years, a more radical approach may be necessary. Some who have only recently discovered the problem may be reluctant to take more drastic measures at this point. They may in time. Remember that there is no one “magic bullet” approach to confronting your spouse, but the principles are always the same. If you feel hesitant to implement the outlined approach, trust your instincts and seek the counsel of a licensed therapist.

Rob Jackson.

Rob Jackson is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice who specializes in intimacy disorders, including sex addiction. He also speaks nationally on a variety of topics, including intimacy with God and family.

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shared by Barbara at 12:31 AM



Yuck. This entire article. First of all if you're dealing with a person who has the brain functioning of a psychopath you have just put him "on stage" and this is his favorite place to be. In his psychopathic mind he is being worshipped and he will milk if for all it's worth. He may agree to all the things, act humble and grateful so that many care, and then change his behavior for a period of time so all will praise him as to what a great guy he is and he will bask in his "rightful" glory. Or he may throw a tantrum, whine cry and blame. But he will ever only be a psychopath.

Where are all these people for this intervention? The people who supposedly care and are concerned for others? If there are any to be found, round them up and give them a workshop explaining what psychopathy is with videos showing the brain functioning of a psychopath and then explaining how this means that they (psychopaths)don't process emotions such as love, empathy, gratefulness etc and that any displays of this from them are simply an act.

Then go on to explain how they must harm others through manipulation. That their main goals are to dominate all and to be worshipped. Hand them a lists of names from the Bible that are attributed to the devil, then let them know, through examples using other psychopaths, that psychopaths fit each one of these descriptions and that John 8:44 talks about psychopaths.

THEN, since there are some many people who can care (I never seem to meet any) have them truly love and pray over any who have been living with or raised by a psychopath. Believe them when they say that their soul has been raped. And then "have nothing to do with them" (the psychopath) 2 Tim 3:5 while at the same time helping and nurturing those who have been destroyed by the psychopath.

So many christians and non-christians alike are woefully uneducated about evil and even less are educated about psychopathy. By the way, evil and psychopathy go hand in hand.

When one becomes a christian, it doesn't mean checking your brain at the door. Quite the oppisite. God will use the brain he gave you to it's full potential. God knows about science as HE CREATED IT and we are blessed to live in a time when we can see, through mri imaging, that some people do not feel love and that they are actually STIMULATED by hurting others (this can be seen through mri's too). God knows about these things and NEVER pretends or denies that evil exists. He also tells us how to handle it in the case of psychopaths. 2 Tim 3:1-5. (A few great examples of people who use their beautiful brains for serving the Lord are Os Guinness and Ravi Zacharias. You can listen to these men speak through videos on Youtube. These men are very well-read and very educated and very committed to serving the Lord. No brain-checking here!)

This is why it's so imperative for us to have access to mri's checking for psychopathy and psychopathy awareness training. So that we can avoid getting tangled up in relationships with them. When in the presence of a psychopath, all your energies, whether you realize it or not, are being used against you and others. It's like trying to be calm, sedate in the middle of a hurricane. YOU may have the right heart and motives but the psychopath in your midst is ALL chaos and is, unbeknownst to you, deliberately attacking you and using any things you teach him or help him with, as ways to gain access to others and, it's very odd how they can do this, but using your beautiful, God given gifts, to HURT you. I'm super, super tired Jesus.

11:42 AM couldnt have said it any better!!!!

I'm tired too Lord. Right now im trying to figure out what/if the purpose of my having come into contact with a psychopath was really all about...purely being an easy target/victim that got preyed upon? Or consequences of walking and acting outside of Gods Will putting me in a vulnerable position of being easily attacked? Perhaps both. Either way, its left an indellible impression on me and i will no longer act in naivety or gullibilty again!!! I might not be so "lucky" next time...even though i came out of the relationship psychologically, financially etc etc bent out of shape. I did manage to get out alive...and this I am greatful to God for, otherwise my yound son would no longer have his Mommy.

Blessings to all of you out there!

1:29 AM  

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